Media whispers: O’s interested in 1B Nick Johnson

December 07, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Several media members in Indianapolis, including Jayson Stark, say the Orioles are interested in first baseman Nick Johnson.

He’s not the best available option.

Not by a longshot.

Adam LaRoche is tons better.

So with that, I’m publicly hoping these Indy-based reporters are wrong.  And it’s not that I don’t want Johnson in Baltimore. I’ve said before that if he winds up coming here, I won’t be bummed out.

I’ve openly campaigned for LaRoche.  He can hit and he can field.  He’s not Raffy Palmeiro, but he’s cut from the same cloth.

I hope Stark and the rest of the gang in Indy have jumped the shark on this one.

That said:  They could be right — and Johnson WOULD be an upgrade over what the O’s have now which is — well — nothing, actually.

Here’s a look at Nick Johnson’s numbers for your review.

The most important number is the one down at the far left portion of the page.

Salary:  $5.5 million in ’09.

That’s right in the O’s “tap-in range”, to borrow a golf term for an easy putt.

Any free agent wanting something signficantly higher than the $5 million range and the Birds start to break out in hives.

I’m not against Nick Johnson.

I AM against his injury history.

He’s never played what amounts to a full season, although he did string together 147 GP in 2006 with the Nationals.  That also turned out to be his best year in the majors, with 23 HR’s and 77 RBI and a .290 average.

I won’t make the obvious point about Johnson being “OK” with playing for a perennial loser since he did toil with the lowly Nats for three full seasons and part of a fourth.  He might be easier to convince to come to Baltimore than a guy like Adam LaRoche, who has at least been involved in some fairly important games in Atlanta and Boston recently.

I want the O’s to sign LaRoche.

He’s the BEST guy out there.

If they get Nick Johnson, I won’t complain too much.

But if they get Nick Johnson, the fact remains they once again settled for second best.

Same old story — same old song and dance.

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